Bocca Baciata (Lips That Have Been Kissed)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828–1882)


32.1 x 27 cm (12 5/8 x 10 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on panel

On View

Frances Vrachos Gallery (Gallery 144)





Rossetti here depicts his mistress, Fanny Cornforth, gazing at the viewer or perhaps at her own reflection in a mirror. The sensual sitter represents an idealized beauty, while the artist’s use of luxurious decorative elements invites sheer visual enjoyment. Inscribed on the back of this panel is a line from a sonnet by the fourteenth-century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio: “Bocca baciate non perda ventura, anzi rinova come fa la luna” (The mouth that has been kissed loses not its freshness; still it renews itself even as does the moon).


Lower left: G C D R (monogram); Reverse: Bocca Baciata no perde ventura, anzi rinnova come fa la / Boccaccio


1859, commissioned by George Price Boyce (b. 1826 - d. 1897), Chelsea, England [see note 1]; July 2, 1897, posthumous Boyce sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, lot 211, to Dunthorne [see note 2]. 1897, Agnew, London, and Charles Fairfax Murray (b. 1849 - d. 1919), London [see note 3]; 1897, ownership passed fully to Murray; 1906, sold by Murray to Mary Pratt (Mrs. Edward D.) Brandegee (b. 1871 - d. 1956), Brookline; by descent to her daughter, Martina Brandegee Lawrence (b. 1906 - d. 1959), Brookline; by inheritance to her husband, James Lawrence (b. 1907 - d. 1995), Brookline; 1980, gift of James Lawrence to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 18, 1980)

[1] Boyce, an architect, painter, and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite society, was also a close friend and patron of Rossetti. He commissioned this painting from Rossetti on July 23, 1859 and it was completed on October 13. He lent it to the "Exhibition of Old Masters," Royal Academy, London, 1883, cat. no. 309.

[2] The name of the buyer is recorded by Algernon Graves, "Art Sales," vol. 3 (London, 1921), p. 104. He may have been an agent for Agnew or Murray.

[3] Charles Fairfax Murray was a partner with Agnew and purchased paintings for the firm. According to Barbara Bryant, in "The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones, & Watts: Symbolism in Britain, 1860-1910" (exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London 1997), p. 96, cat. no. 2, the painting was owned jointly by Agnew and Murray until 1897, and Murray sold it to Mrs. Brandegee in 1906.

Credit Line

Gift of James Lawrence